Episode 5 Review
In the wake of Poison Ivy being evicted because of Harley's crew, it's time to starting hunting for a lair but Harley Quinn experiences an identity crisis and suffers a brain freeze. Ivy and the crew use Dr. Psycho's powers to journey into Harley's mind to rescue her but soon learn it's a dangerous place to be.
Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn check out a lair for sale with a realtor. Just as Harley seems interested in a giant skull-faced volcano, she changes her mind and isn't sure it's on brand. They check out another one but Harley isn't too into an intricate system of tunnels carved by The Mole. Nor a chilly venue last occupied by Mr. Freeze. The realtor starts to get annoyed so they head back to Ivy's former apartment. She tries to get a better picture of Harley and asks her questions. King Shark notices boxes sent over by the Suicide Squad and is enamored by the T-shirts inside but Harley informs him it's just a group who has been trying to get her to join. King jams some shirts on Clayface and Dr. Psycho. Sy Borgman is eager for them all to leave so he can show the space to new prospective tenants. The realtor is unsure about staying but asks Harley why she wanted to become villain, which villain she most admires, and simply chocolate or vanilla. Harley can't answer any of them and in frustration, freezes up in place.
Dr. Psycho quickly diagnoses it as a level four brain freeze but takes offense to Ivy not calling him a "doctor." She is distrustful of Psycho and refuses to let him go into Harley's mind alone. Psycho obliges her and instructs everyone to hold hands and squeeze their butt cheeks together. Psycho uses his mental power to send himself and everyone into Harley's mind. Their bodies drop in place. They find themselves in pristine white surroundings populated with portraits and objects on display. Psycho deduces they are in Harley's Museum of Memories. They observe her happiest moment, a little six year old Harley chopping the head off a boy doll then her high school graduation valedictorian speech where she tells the faculty to eff off. The crew soon reunites with Harley. Psycho lays out the plan to reboot Harley's mind and instructs them to observe stripper rules, look but don't touch, or else the brain will feel threatened and try to protect itself. Harley admits to Ivy she's screwed up on top of the regular screwed up. Ivy thinks the answer has be in her mind somewhere. Harley notices her memory of her origin story when Joker pushed her into a vat of chemicals but sees a glitch during the pivotal moment. Harley interacts with the memory and triggers a brain lockdown. An alarm sounds off and the brain manual override vanishes, to Psycho's chagrin.
Sy Borgman arrives with a couple but sees everyone's bodies wearing "Suicide Squad" t-shirts. He panics and sends the couple away. He calls someone codenamed Black Mamba and states "it happened again." Ivy starts to lose it at the thought of being trapped forever. King Shark notices a little Harley and tries to befriend her. But the Harley displays unexpected strength and ferocity. She slams Kind repeatedly into the ground and punches him. Harley kicks it into a wall and informs him she was never sweet at any age. Psycho emphasizes that it is the defensive response the brain sent and reveals they die in real life if they die in Harley's mind. To make matters worse, tons of little Harleys arrive. They make a strategic retreat and manage to find an elevator. Before Psycho can choose to take them to the subconscious where there is an emergency exit, King makes a mistake and inadvertently picks the optic nerve. They observe Sy and his friend Golda deciding on burning all their bodies in a furnace. To their surprise, Sy was a spy back in the day.
Harley, Ivy, and the crew head to the subconscious, which turns out to look like a carnival where all the barkers look like the Joker. The search for the emergency exit is interrupted by the arrival of the Harleys but they are saved at the last minute by a mysterious figure. He reveals the emergency exit then takes off his hood, revealing he is child star Frankie Muniz. Muniz was a major childhood crush of Harley's. Psycho figures he was Harley's truest love so her brain sent a vision of him to help them. Meanwhile, Sy and Golda roll the bodies into the abandoned and derelict Gotham Mall. Sy gets nostalgic and shows some regret about not having "spy kids" with her but Golda points out she has a normal life with children and grandchildren. He grabs her and activates a helicopter function but runs out of diesel mid-flight and they plummet. Harley notices Repressed Memory Island and decides to ignore Psycho's warning and head there for answers. Before the others can leave, Ivy reminds them of how Harley gave them a second chance at the villain life. They all elect to stay and help Harley.
Clayface makes the ultimate sacrifice and turns into Frankie Muniz to lead the Harleys away from the others. Those left hop on King Shark's back and he swims them to the island. Time is running short as the furnace is ready. The interior of the building on the island resembles Arkham Asylum. They start peeking into the rooms and see a memory of little Harley getting a restraining order from Muniz. Harley realizes that's why she went to juvenile hall. They come upon a door that's been taped off. Harley hears Joker's laugh and opens the door to... her origin story. She's shocked to see she chose to jump into the chemicals and was never pushed. She realizes it was her choice and see was in control all along. She heads into the memory and changes the venue to Joker's funhouse lair and asserts herself like when she broke up with Joker in the pilot episode. She declares she made herself and leaves. They all find themselves suddenly back at the museum and reunite with Clayface. Everyone wakes up just in time and confronts Sy. Harley looks around and decides the mall will be their lair. Sy, ever the businessman, tells her it's $100,000 a month. Harley counter offers $1 and they don't kill him for trying to burn their bodes in a pizza oven. Sy agrees on the condition they take him along on some of their heists.
The beauty of this episode is that it subverts expectations but has a little fun along the way. It starts out as a typical task of the week, like past episodes that revolved around a goal like making a crew or looking for a nemesis, but takes a left turn into a mental misadventure that sheds some light on Harley's back story. And it all culminates on Harley getting a lair but also coming out a more... well adjusted? It's a welcome revelation that Harley was always Harley rather than the influence of the Joker bringing out her true self. To balance it out, there's the meta humor, Clayface likening situations to movies with a similar premise like Nightmare on Elm Street, Being John Malkovich, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, old people jabs, some amusing DC shout outs, and sweetening the pot with a legion of scary bestial kid Harleys and a shameless celebrity cameo. Another pleasant surprise in this episode is there's more to Sy Borgman than being a cranky cybernetic Jewish landlord and he's going to be a part timer in Harley's crew.
"Being Harley Quinn" is a stand out episode of the season thanks to a winning combination of setting, humor, revelations, and thrills. The show really finds its way with this episode as it finally emerges from the thick forest of world building. This also kicks off a string of what I found to be some of the best episodes of the season so buckle up if you haven't already, this shindig is gonna quickly turn into a hootenanny.
Rating: 8 out of 10